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Day 11 - A lovely sailing day ... preparing for the 'blow' tomorrow...

Friday 15th April 2011

A gorgeous day of downwind sailing (and singing in the cockpit!) in 20knot winds .... wam sea (18C!!), sunny blue sky, ... white-caps on 3-4 m swell on our port quarter - not a problem.... I'm actually considering discarding a fleece layer and maybe even my thick ski socks....! We've had a few Great shearwaters keeping us company as usual all day, on & off, ... a Spectacled petrel , ... a little storm petrel flitted by, close to the surface... Even a solitary albatross was spotted soaring in the distance, long dark wings held out stiffly from its white body... and then an all-dark Great-winged Petrel flew by, making me dive for the bird book to check what it was!! They breed in May on the Tristan da Cunha group of islands - which my path to Cape Town will possibly pass close by soon after Easter.

This morning, I was able to act as a relay, for a change, during the S.African M.M. Net - Sam, ZS1SAM, in Simonstown, could not hear Greg on 'Alcidae3', so I relayed his position and weather (25-30 kt of S wind!) to Sam. Greg's wind (he's WSW of Cape Town now) shows why I'll eventually have to aim for Cape Town from the SW - the prevailing strong winds are from the S. Otherwise it can be it impossible to lay a course to Cape Town - people regularly end way up the coast, in fact, and have trouble getting back down to Cape Town - the prevailing N-flowing current not helping either!

The 'Saturday low' I mentioned yesterday is now quite clearly getting right in my way as a nasty gale, beginning over Saturday night and lasting well into Sunday ('gale' = F8 ... 34-40kt, very likely to gust to much more) .... followed by another, hopefully less intense, Low on Tues/Wed. I've spent a long time, as usual, studying the grib (weather) files to decide on my options. It doesn't look as though I'll be able to avoid the very strong winds over Sat/Sun, whatever direction I head in now - I simply can't sail fast enough for that! So I've decided the safest thing is to plan to deploy the Jordan series drogue while running downwind, after the expected light winds of Sat morning start increasing from the S-SSE. That should keep me drifting downwind at 2-3 knots for the duration of the gale - so I'll end up heading ENE having been taken around 3/4 of a circle by changing winds....

It will be interesting to see where I end up, compared with where I started!

Hopefuly, the drogue will work as well as I keep hearing it does! I'll drop the main when in fairly light conditions, when it will be easy, and head downwind for a bit under headsail(s) alone until the wind starts rising, when I'll furl them in, ready for deployment- which can be done early... Time spent with the drogue out is not an issue, .... safety is!! It will be interesting for me to see how deploying the drogue works out. Will it be as comfortable in a gale/big seas as I keep hearing people claim?? And will retrieving it be as easy as I've heard it can be?

Today's report:
TIME: 2011/04/15 14:00 LATITUDE: 40-10.71S LONGITUDE: 034-38.39W
CLOUDS: 70% BARO: 1013 TREND: 1
COMMENT: DMG 134 ml. 2532 ml to CT. Hazy sun thro' thin o'cast,clear in SW.

5pm Swell 4m, on port quarter... getting rolly... speed down from consistent 6-7 kt earlier to 5kt.... sun close to setting ... just a few clouds.. occasional shearwater... Time to orgainize early meal while still some light .. then back to windvane repair - little done so far today -had broken glass to clear up -demonstrating why glass shouldn't be on board ... 'unbreakable' becomes hundreds of sharp shards when it breaks...!

Written by : Mike

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